Friday, February 1, 2013

How to Speak Kid: Baby in the House!

For me, one of the most stressful things about having a new baby was dealing with my other kids. My first two kids are 18 months apart, and from the beginning, I made a goal. When my older kids needed to be disciplined or reminded of a rule, I would try to make it as separate from the baby as possible. I didn't want them to feel that our rules were changing just because there was a baby in the house, and I didn't want to create unnecessary resentment. Their lives are going to be different enough - focus on what is the same. Even if the baby is the reason for the redirection, try to rephrase what you're saying so that it doesn't seem like everything is about "the baby, the baby, the baby!" Can you tell I'm an oldest child myself?

Mostly for me this centered on noise. There is nothing more aggravating than spending two hours getting a baby down for a nap, only to have him awakened by a shriek from an older sibling. While it's tempting to hiss, "Be quiet! The baby is sleeping!" (emphasis everywhere), take a moment and think. Can they normally scream in the house? Not in mine. Just as easy to say, "You need to use a quiet voice. We don't scream in our house." Takes the baby right out of the equation. You don't need to blame the baby for wanting a quiet house if that's always been your rule.

Other times you might want to use this technique?
*"Slow down. You're getting a little bit crazy for inside," versus, "Stop running! You are going to step on Sammy while he's doing his tummy time!"
*"I know you'd like to eat at McDonald's, but let's do that for dinner instead," versus, "We can't stop for lunch! Baby Charlotte needs her nap!"
*"Sure, I'll play Candyland with you! Go get it set up and I'll be ready in a little while," versus, "No, I can't play Candyland with you right now - I'm nursing Cam!"

Even when you have a new baby, try to talk with your kids the way you used to. Think of how you would have handled the behavior before the baby came, and go with that. You have parenting expectations for them that have nothing to do with the new baby, so make sure you're communicating that consistency to them.

Check out my other posts on "How to Speak Kids" here and here

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